Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

October 23rd, 2009

Robots: Slithering Creatures

In this episode we’ll be speaking about snake robots slithering through pipes, disaster areas and even your body. We first speak with expert Howie Choset from Carnegie Mellon University about the big-picture concerning these reptile-like machines. We then turn to Erik Kyrkjebø from SINTEF Applied Cybernetic in Norway for an in depth coverage of their pipe inspection snake robots.

Howie Choset

Howie Choset is an associate professor and the director of the BioRobotics Lab at Carnegie Mellon University where his research in path planning, motion planning and estimation have been used to control a range of snake-inspired robots. Choset tells us how snake robots can slither, slide, squeeze or climb into places that people, or even other types of robots can’t reach. He explains the basics of snake robot design and the mechanical challenges faced by robots that have so many degrees of freedom. He also talks about the multitude of different gaits a snake robot can use and how they are particularly suited for search and rescue, industrial inspection and even minimally-invasive surgery.

Choset and his robots are regularly featured in the media, such as the CNet report below:




Erik Kyrkjebø

Erik Kyrkjebø is Senior Researcher at the Applied Cybernetic departement at SINTEF in Norway which is the largest independent research organization in Scandinavia. SINTEF is focused on bridging the gap between academia and industry through very down to earth projects.

From the multi-robot coordination he studied during his PhD at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, he’s now gone to multi-link snake robots. The resulting PiKo robot developed at SINTEF is intended for pipe inspection tasks and can move up and down vertical pipes and negotiate corners.



Kyrkjebø discusses the specific technical details and challenges regarding the autonomy and locomotion of his slithering machines including batteries, wet environments, sensors and control. He also presents another snake robot developed at SINTEF that can fight fire. This Anna Konda is propelled using water and at the same can use the water to calm the flames.

So, will we soon be seeing snake robots climb into our bathroom?

Links:


Latest News:

For an excellent video explaining the workings of the Chembot as well as more information on Panasonic’s and Honda’s latest robotic creations, visit the Robots Forum!

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September 11th, 2009

Robots: Celebrating Invention

In this episode we have an exclusive interview with Dean Kamen, considered by some as the greatest inventor alive. He’s the father of the insulin pump, the Segway and the new Luke Arm prosthesis for amputees. To encourage creativity and to break the stereotypes attributed to scientists, Kamen created FIRST which is attracting kids from around the world to robotics competitions. Finally, in the spirit of invention, we want to know what you think is the best invention of all times. We’ll be giving away our favorite invention, some of Switzerland’s finest chocolate, to what we think is the most creative response. Be sure to post your thoughts in the forum!

Dean Kamen

robotics picture of great inventorDean Kamen is an inventor who changes lives. As a starting point for most of his ideas, there is a clear belief that some things just SHOULD exist. That’s why he didn’t even wait to finish college to invent the first wearable infusion pump, which rapidly gained acceptance from such diverse medical specialties as chemotherapy, neonatology and endocrinology. Based on this idea he created a company that went on to invent the first insulin pump for diabetics. After selling this company to Baxter International Corporation, he formed DEKA. Take the first two letters of his first and last name and you get the company facade for his crazy ideas.

Products rolling out of DEKA include the iBOT, an all-terrain electric wheelchair whose technology paved the way for the Segway, the Luke Arm prosthesis and systems to bring clean water and energy to people in need.

However, not only is Kamen inventing, he is also passionate about creating inventors through FIRST which is a framework for robotic competitions reaching 196’000 kids around the world from age 6 to high-school. The 17’594 teams participating are split into four categories with the Robotics Competition, Tech Challenge, two LEGO Leagues, and a league for young kids. Through these competitions, Kamen hopes to put the spotlight on scientists, turning them into public heroes and breaking stereotypes.

In this interview, Kamen tells us what a good idea is, talks about FIRST, and presents the technical details of his newest invention, the Luke Arm.

Win Swiss Chocolate!

In the spirit of creativity and invention, we’re wondering what you, our audience thinks is the world’s greatest invention! Let us know in the forum, for your chance to win a huge box of luxurious Swiss chocolate from one of Lausanne, Switzerland’s finest hand-crafted luxury chocolate makers, Blondel chocolate. Feel free to be creative, and add a picture or YouTube video to convince us that your favorite invention is definitely the best. And if any of you are inventors yourselves, the forum’s a great place to show us what you’re made of!

Links:


Latest News:

As always, more information can be found in the Robots forums, this week including PlasmoBot, Korea’s Robotland and the latest on Pleo.
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July 3rd, 2009

Robots: From Animals to Automation

In this episode we look at how FESTO, a worldwide leader in automation technology, has been copying nature to design bionic robots such as artificial penguins, manta-rays or jellyfish. Our first guest, Markus Fischer, is head of Corporate Design at FESTO and expert in transferring technology from biomimetic research to actual products such as grippers. Our second guest, Victor Zykov, finished his PhD and PostDoc at Cornell University in NY on modular robotics. His favorite modules, the Molecubes, are another example of transfer from a bio-inspired systems to FESTO.

Markus Fischer

Markus Fischer is the head of the Bionic Learning Network project at FESTO, one of the world’s leaders in automation, with thousands of employees around the world and products ranging from solenoids, valves, and cylinders to integrated automation solutions. Recently, FESTO has been exploring the world of mobile robotics, with stunning demonstrators such as the AquaPenguin, AquaRay, AirJelly and many more.

However, creating artificial systems is not the final goal, and Fischer has been looking to identify bionic principles which can be applied to the world of automation in new-generation products. A fulfillment of this endeavor can be found in thier Bionic Tripod which has grippers functioning following the same principles as the AquaPenguins. The concept is based on the Fin Ray® effect by which a fin, when pressed, actually wraps around the point of pressure rather than the intuitive opposite.

Finally, FESTO is also looking at collective robotic systems for inspiration in creating adaptable, robust and flexible systems for the industry.



Victor Zykov

Victor Zykov completed his PhD and PostDoc at Cornell University in NY under the supervision of Hod Lipson. Over the years, he’s been looking to create self-repairing and self-reproducing robots resulting in publications in Science and Nature.

Zykov explains the principles of modular robotics and presents one of his favorite building blocks, the Molecube. Molecubes are cubic like modules that are cheap to fabricate and easy to use for newbie roboticists with an online framework at www.molecubes.org. From the labs at Cornell, the Molecubes found their way to FESTO as educational robots. He tells us why modular robotics is of interest to FESTO in building up adaptable factories of the future.

Victor Zykov is now On-Deck Systems Head at the Kite Assist Institute in California.



Links:


Latest News:

To learn more about the autonomous shrapnel removing robot, prediction for the personal robotics market and for the most eery version of “Happy Birthday” you’ve ever heard, have a look at the Robots Forum.

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January 16th, 2009

Robots: Industrial Robots in Research

In this episode we talk to Raúl Ordóñez about his new Motoman Robotics Lab at the University of Dayton and the research he plans to do with his high profile industrial robots.

Raúl Ordóñez

Raúl Ordóñez is the director of the Nonlinear Control Lab and the newly created Motoman Robotics Lab at the University of Dayton in Ohio.

The Motoman Lab houses six state-of-the-art industrial robots, including a seven-axis, actuator-driven IA20 robot; a 15-axis, actuator-driven and human-like dual-arm DIA10 robot; a four-axis YS450 high-speed SCARA robot; two six-axis HP3 articulated robots and one HP3C six-axis, articulated robot with a compact controller.

Using these industrial robots, he will be looking to study visual servoing which would allow robots to control their movements based on visual feedback derived from cameras and maybe achieve tasks such as pole-balancing or even juggling. Such closed-loop control could lead to novel applications for the industry and robots that are able to perform in changing environments.

However, whenever the researchers have their backs turned, the robots come to life to perform multi-robot dances on the music of the Star Wars Movie or the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies.



More generally, Ordóñez has been studying nonlinear control systems over the years, using several different test-beds including robot arms, helicopters, table top mobile robots and humanoids. He’ll be explaining what makes these systems non-linear and how this research allowed him to spend eight weeks this summer in the Boeing Welliver fellowship program, working on the control of planes.

Links:


Latest News:

For a summary of new robots at this year’s CES, a high-speed video of the flight of the .23 g ornithopter, and more information on the new exoskeleton have a look at our robot forum.

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January 2nd, 2009

Robots: 2008 New Year’s Special

For our New Year’s episode, we’ll be giving you an overview of the trends in robotics for 2008 and an insight into next year’s developments with five experts in robotics from different backgrounds and continents. We speak with Dan Kara from Robotics Trends about the robot marketplace, Terry Fong from the NASA Ames Research Center, Dario Floreano from the EPFL, Steve Rainwater from robots.net and Minoru Asada from Osaka University.

Dan Kara

Dan Kara is the president and co-founder of Robotics Trends, a US based company specialized in the burgeoning personal, service and mobile robotics market. His company has been working over the years to compile a business image of robotics and inform through their webportal.

Terry Fong

Terry Fong is the Director of the Intelligent Robotics Group at the NASA Ames Research Center. 2008 was a busy year in space robotics with several missions sending back loads of scientific data from Mars.

Dario Floreano

Dario Floreano is the director of the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at the EPFL in Lausanne Switzerland where he focuses on taking inspiration from biology to design swarming, evolving and flying robots as well as researching how biological societies can evolve to communicate and cooperate.

Steven Rainwater

Steven Rainwater is one of the founding editors of robots.net, and was previously featured in a Robots episode on the robot blogosphere. His specialty is hobbyist robotics, and he tells us about the latest products that you can find in your local hobby shop.

Minoru Asada

Minoru Asada is the director of the Asada Lab at Osaka University and the director of the Asada Synergistic Intelligence Project. He is also greatly involved in the Robotcup Federation.

Christmas Contest Winner

In our last episode, we asked you to guess what our WowWee Femisapien did on her first weekend in Switzerland for a chance to win one. Well, you most likely won’t be surprised to learn that she took advantage of the excellent snow in December to go down a few slopes with her newly learned ski moves and her personal coaches here at ROBOTS (video coming soon).

Congratulations to Erin at robotgrrl.com for her excellent animation and correct guess!

Links:


Latest News:

Instead of our traditional news item we made a short year-end review of the biggest news items of 2008 in our forum. Let us know what was your biggest news of 2008!

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